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British space experiment will bring commercial extraction of minerals on the Moon and Mars closer

Europe / Digest

Humanity will need a local resource extraction method to enable long-term human settlements outside the planet.

British space experiment will bring commercial extraction of minerals on the Moon and Mars closer

A UK-led experiment that could allow mining on the Moon and Mars was supposed to go to the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday, but due to weather conditions, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launch was postponed to Sunday .

Extraction of local resources in space, instead of taking everything you need with you from Earth, could allow for the long-term resettlement of people outside the planet.

For the first time the processing of minerals by bacteria on the ISS held in July 2019. Expirement gave good results, which gave scientists hope for commercial applications of space bio-mining. BioAsteroid's new experiment will bring advanced matchbox-sized containers to the ISS to investigate how bio-mining works in microgravity.

The containers will be used to grow bacteria and fungi in an incubator for three weeks to see how the gravity environment affects the microbes that extract minerals from the rock.


Microbes are used to bio-mine the Earth as a convenient way to access metals trapped in rocks, which the microbes digest, leaving behind the materials miners need.

If this method is successful in space, it could support efforts to explore the Moon and Mars, which will allow humanity to extract building materials, water and even rocket fuel.

The researchers said that conditions on the ISS can be obtained that cannot be replicated on Earth.

By Libby Jackson, Program Manager for Human Research at the UK Space Agency:

“If we want to continue to explore space and push the boundaries of the possible, then we will need to create or find the basic elements needed to sustain life. Through our membership of the European Space Agency, British scientists can benefit from the unique scientific capabilities available on the ISS and are at the forefront of efforts to recreate the foundations of life on Earth. The new Bioreactor Express program, of which this experiment is a part, will change how we can use this unique laboratory, opening up new opportunities for UK scientists and organizations to do science in space. ”

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